Boxing Tip #7 - The Pendulum Step
The pendulum step is a more advanced footwork and timing concept that should be used sparingly. It uses a lot of energy to maintain, but can be very effective at delivering a very powerful jab that will completely catch your opponent off guard. It also utilizes momentum from both yourself and your opponent which magnifies the striking power of the jab.
What is the Pendulum Step?
If you've watched Muhammed Ali box you'll have a pretty good idea how this works. Basically, you are bouncing back and forth from toe to toe almost like you are skipping. The hops are small and controlled basically putting your head in range and then pulling it out of range just as quick. Not a lot different than the typical boxing stance except there is constant movement in a pendulum motion - forward and back, forward and back.
As you are actually lifting your weight off the mat, this is also a dangerous move. Timed right, your opponent can knock you flat out simply because you have no contact with the floor. At the same time, the momentum you build up gives you the ability to change directions in a split second and transition into various combinations at will.
The pendulum step I'm referring to here includes not only the pendulum movement, but also an attack.
How to Do the Pendulum Step
The pendulum step is a lure. You will lure your opponent into throwing a jab which you will promptly return with something a lot more powerful. As mentioned above, you are hopping in a controlled manner from front foot to back foot - forward to back which puts your head in and out of range. Doing this at some point will entice your opponent to attack and throw a jab. When you see it coming you have to immediately push back with your front foot to step out of range of the jab - backwards in a straight line. You're not done though -- as soon as you've cleared the range of the jab, slam your back foot down propelling yourself forward with a counter jab of your own. Timed right, you will follow your opponent's jab back striking your opponent with the force of your jab, your forward momentum, and the forward momentum of your opponent.
The result will completely stun your opponent and regain you the initiative. It's shock action at its best.
How to Practice the Pendulum Step
1. With a partner: Start slow and get the timing right. Get into the pendulum step hopping forward and back in front of your partner. Have your partner throw continuous jabs and get the feel for evading them backwards in time with your hops and then moving forward as your partner draws his jab back. Once you have that, go for the attack. Practice as before, but this time throw a jab on the return trying to beat your opponent's jab back to the guard.
2. Without a partner: If all you've got is a heavy bag, you can still practice this. Give the bag a push and then get moving in the pendulum motion in time with the bag. Picture a jab coming at you as the bag moves toward you and take a slightly bigger hop back (that simulates evading the jab). When you land, propel forward with a jab of your own catching the bag as it is moving away from you (simulates the withdraw of the jab). The quicker you can catch the bag with your jab as it is moving back the better you are getting.
This step is all about timing and conditioning yourself to decrease your reaction times. This will help develop your reflexes in addition to increasing your level of agility in terms of your footwork. When the basic pendulum step starts to become second nature, you can increase the level of difficulty by bringing angles into the equation. When you do the evade, hop back and to a side. This will give you an even clearer shot at your opponent on the counter attack. You can also try throwing other kinds of punches. The jab is most effective because you can shoot it out extremely quickly and you are well aligned to do so, but a quick hook or uppercut could also be effective (or a hybrid of both).
What to Avoid
The pendulum step wastes a lot of energy. The constant forward and back is rythmic and can easily be timed, so ensure you switch up the rhythm. If you plan on moving like this for the entire round, then ensure your conditioning can take it. Along with timing, someone keen on what you are doing can do the same thing to you by faking the jab out and then catching you hard as you come screaming in. For that reason, like all boxing, ensure your strategy is sound and you have an idea of the level of boxer you are dealing with. Obviously this will work better with someone who is not expecting it.